JMA girls stick it to Stratford

Feb. 5—Friday's region contest against visiting Stratford Academy was but a minor bump in the road for the now 16-3 John Milledge Academy girls basketball team.

The Eaglettes of Macon kept it close for a half, only going into the break down two, but head coach Jeremy Mayweather's Lady Trojans found another gear through the final couple of quarters. They won the final two periods 32-12 and the game 52-29 to up their region record to 5-2 on the season.

"We went man-to-man and would occasionally double down on their big post player," Mayweather said of his halftime defensive adjustment. "We were fortunate enough to hold her to only 11 points. Normally she's going to get between 18 and 20 a night because she's a force on the inside."

John Milledge lost the opening tip, but remedied that quickly as senior Maggie Prestwood stole the ball away and found classmate Jordan Prestridge for a lay-in. That same connection was made about five minutes of game time later to make it 7-4 JMA. Shots off the fingertips of Hayden Craddock and Shannon Smith kept Stratford close and caused a 9-9 tie after one quarter played.

The second was fairly even as well, but the switch to man defense turned the game into a lopsided affair after the half. Senior Ella Hudgins hit from the left corner on the first possession to get things going for JMA. Up 28-21 midway through the post-halftime period, the Lady Trojans ended the frame on a 12-2 run to seize full control. Allie Osborne muscled up a shot through contact down around the left baseline. She made good on the three-point play, and was followed soon after by a similar effort from junior post player Calah Foston. She grabbed an offensive rebound and fought through defenders' arms for her own and-one opportunity. The free throw was no good, but Mayweather's girls had already stretched their lead to 15 at that point.

Prestwood paced the Lady Trojans in scoring with a game-high 20 with the help of three 3s while Osborne added 11 in the winning effort.

With two losses in the region, JMA looks to have a solid hold on the second seed heading into the upcoming region tournament. FPD, who split with the Lady Trojans in the regular season, sits atop the standings in this the final week of the schedule. A rubber match may decide the region title unless third-place Tattnall Square plays spoiler similar to how it did last year.

That's the region picture. The bigger landscape is in Class AAA where the JMA girls are currently third in the MaxPreps power rankings behind Lakeview Academy and Deerfield-Windsor. Those rankings will determine seeding for the state tournament, not region tourney finishing placements since some regions are made up of a mix of AAA and AAAA competitors.

"I don't think we've truly reached our full potential, but I like where we are," Mayweather said. "We've got time left to tighten some things up, so I'm really looking forward to that. FPD's still the team to beat, but we can take care of business if we come out and do what we need to do."

The Lady Trojans will finish up the regular season at home Tuesday night against Mount de Sales. The JMA girls took this season's first meeting by 31.